Tuesday, October 20, 2015
TAX INCREASE PAC RAISES $107,000: Cui bono? (Who benefits?)
Political action committee raises more than $100,000 in support of sales tax referendum
Posted: October 20, 2015 - 11:42pm | Updated: October 20, 2015 - 11:55pm
By JAKE MARTIN
A political action committee formed in support of the St. Johns County School Board’s referendum request for a ½-cent sales tax increase for capital projects has raised and spent more than $100,000 since late August.
The PAC, headed by chairwoman Alecia Bailey and her husband Mark Bailey, president of The Bailey Group, is called “Better Schools. Better Economy. Brighter Future.”
Its first financial report, submitted to the St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections Office on Oct. 16, shows monetary support from private citizens, insurance companies, law firms, car dealerships and school officials as well as real estate investors, consultants and developers.
The PAC’s 47 donors contributed a total of $107,230 between Aug. 27 and Oct. 16.
The Baileys donated $25,000 — the PAC’s largest contribution to date — to the cause on Aug. 27. Letti Bozard, of Bozard Ford Lincoln in St. Augustine, contributed $10,000 on Oct. 13.
Jacksonville-based real estate developer Roger O’Steen donated $10,000 on Sept. 14. O’Steen is founder and chairman of the PARC Group, the developer behind the Nocatee community.
Split Pine Development, which provided a Jacksonville address matching O’Steen’s, made a $10,000 contribution on the same day.
Stellar, a Jacksonville-based construction firm, donated $5,000 on Sept. 24. The Stellar Academy of Engineering at Allen D. Nease High School was formed in partnership with Stellar.
Harvard Jolly, a St. Petersburg-based architectural firm specializing in school, health care and public buildings, donated $5,000 on Aug. 27. England-Thims & Miller, Jacksonville engineering firm, contributed $5,000 as well, on Sept. 14.
Among the PAC’s early contributors was Frank Upchurch, attorney for the St. Johns County School Board, donating $5,000 on Aug. 27. Superintendent Joe Joyner and school board vice chair Patrick Canan’s law firm made $500 and $2,500 contributions, respectively, on Sept. 1.
Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, an Atlanta-based law firm with offices in Jacksonville, made a contribution of $500 on Aug. 27. John Dickinson, an employment litigation attorney and partner at Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete in Jacksonville, will represent Joyner in upcoming termination hearings for three staff members involved in a Sept. 16 incident at Sebastian Middle School.
The PAC’s expenditures between Aug. 27 and Oct. 16 totaled $106,220.94, $101,132.84 of which went to the Vero Beach-based David Millner Group.
According to the campaign treasurer’s report, David Millner Group provided the PAC services including consulting; printing and mailing; research and polling; digital ads; and legal and compliance.
Printing and mailing expenses took up the bulk of expenses at nearly $70,000.
According to David Millner Group’s website, other clients have included the Republican Party of Florida, Florida Crystals Sugar and Florida Federation for Children.
Signs Now, in St. Augustine, received $2,382.35 from the PAC for a billboard, banner and sign.
The PAC’s second financial report, covering Oct. 17-Oct. 30, is due to the Supervisor of Elections Office on Oct. 30. Its final report, covering Oct. 31-Jan. 28, is due Jan. 28.
The school board on June 30 unanimously called for a referendum election to determine whether it would be authorized to levy a 10-year, ½-cent sales tax for capital outlay projects.
The school capital outlay surtax would exclusively fund projects in new construction, reconstruction, improvement of existing school facilities, safety and security improvements and technology upgrades.
If approved by St. Johns County voters on Nov. 3, the sales tax increase would go into effect Jan. 1, 2016, and terminate Dec. 31, 2025.
According to estimates, the increase would generate $13 million in the first full year of implementation and $150 million over the 10-year collection period.
The referendum requires 50 percent plus one in favor of the sales tax in order to pass.
PAC Contributions $500 and up
Alecia Bailey, St. Augustine, $25,000
Letti Bozard, St. Augustine, $10,000
Roger O’Steen, Jacksonville, $10,000
Split Pine Development, Jacksonville, $10,000
England-Thims & Miller, Jacksonville, $5,000
Harvard Jolly, St. Petersburg, $5,000
Sniffen & Spellman, P.A., Tallahassee, $5,000
Stellar, Jacksonville, $5,000
Frank D. Upchurch III, St. Augustine, $5,000
Douglass F. Wiles, St. Augustine, $5,000
Gregory E. Baker, St. Augustine, $2,500
Patrick T. Canan, P.A., St. Augustine, $2,500
Hutson Companies, St. Augustine, $2,500
ThompsonBaker Agency, St. Augustine, $2,500
The Cummings Consulting Group, Orange Park, $1,500
Florida School Book Depository, Jacksonville, $1,500
Peter Ellis, St. Augustine, $1,000
John D. Rood, Jacksonville, $1,000
The Vestcor Companies, Jacksonville, $1,000
Karen Burke, Ponte Vedra Beach, $500
Susan W. Connor, St. Augustine, $500
Costangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, Atlanta, Ga., $500
FEA Solidarity Fund, Tallahassee, $500
Joseph G. Joyner, St. Augustine, $500
The McLeod Firm, St. Augustine, $500
Nissan of St. Augustine, St. Augustine, $500
St. Augustine Beach Civic Assoc., St. Augustine, $500
S. Gary Snodgrass, St. Augustine, $500
Total contributions Aug. 27-Oct. 16: $107,230
Note: Nineteen contributions less than $500 totaled $1,730.
David Millner Group, Vero Beach, $101,132.84
Signs Now, St. Augustine, $2,382.35
Service Pros USA, St. Augustine, $1,195.51
Hybrid Design, St. Augustine, $986
Breck’s Beach Billboards, St. Augustine, $200
Office Max, St. Augustine, $154.27
Target, St. Augustine, $121.84
St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections, St. Augustine, $43
Raise the Money, Little Rock, Ark., $5.15
Total expenditures Aug. 27-Oct. 16: $106,220.94
Morris1 10/21/15 - 12:33 am 00"as well as real estate investors, consultants and developers."
So, yeah. The people most in favor of this are real estate investors, consultants and developers who view our education infrastructure as a huge selling point for their product (and strenuously encourage the citizenry to foot the bill for the liabilities they are creating), and local business magnates who want as many people living here as possible... and after that, way, way, way down the donation-size list, a few clueless idealists who actually do believe it's 'for the children'.
100K to the David Milner Group means we ought to be seeing some ridiculous TV spots here shortly. http://www.millnergroup.com/#!tv/ck0q
If we are naive enough to buy this, we absolutely deserve it.
sponger2 10/21/15 - 08:23 am 20They are counting on our stupidity!
They figure if they shake their heads up and down enough, print pictures of mobile school classrooms as if they were refuge camps, whine, cry, and all manner of begging, we'll buy it. Not this time!
Look at the donors. They want the gravy train of overcrowding and over development to continue. More people, more cars to sell. More crime, more need for an attorney. All the out of town groups, why would they give a hoot? There's your snake oil salesmen. Developers. Real estate types. If the word gets out that little Johnny won't be driven in a Limo to the brand new state of the art school system we advertise nationally, they may stop coming. Oh no. Our wallets won't be as fat, and that spot in the Cayman Islands might be out of reach.
Not approving this increase is the only way the development will slow down, and they know it. If you want more noise and traffic, higher cost for everything, less wildlife and access to the beach, this is your tax. If you're like most of us who are tired of this bulls%*t, and the wholesale rape of what was once a beautiful county, you will vote against it.
In conclusion, The commission and planning departments failed in their public trust, and raising the millage rate (which they will do anyway) is their only way out, if we don't VOTE ourselves a tax. And that leaves them with something they have not had in a long time. Accountability.